1925 Marc Chagall Signed Etching, ”The Visit Through the Window“

Value (2009) | $2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction

GUEST:
Well, this was a gift I got in 1970 from my wife for my birthday. We were living in Philadelphia at the time, and I don't know exactly how much she paid for it-- in the hundreds of dollars. And it's been with me ever since. I really don't know anything about it other than I like it and I do know it's Marc Chagall, and so I've always treasured it, but I have no idea of its value or anything about it actually.

APPRAISER:
It's an etching by Marc Chagall. This is from a portfolio called "Maternity," and it was published in Paris in 1925. There are five etchings altogether in this illustrated book. Around a thousand copies of the book were made. There's no mystery in what's going on here in the image. It's called "The Visit Through the Window." And a couple of them are a little bit racier than this.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, one of the first curiosities with this is that the individual etchings in the book were not signed.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So this presents a little bit of a problem for me, that you walked in with this print that's not supposed to be signed, and yet boldly down here in the lower right is a pencil signature, "Marc Chagall."

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So my first thought was, is this signature correct? There's no doubt about the print. The etching is absolutely correct. It's printed on the type of paper one would expect to see it on. In this margin you can make out the watermark, which is typical of the paper that Chagall used for this illustrated work. The other curiosity here is that the signature is what appears to me to be a later career signature, in the style Chagall would have signed in the 1950s or 1960s.

GUEST:
Hmm.

APPRAISER:
In 1925, his signature was a very small, tight signature, really half the size of that, without all the fluidity of this signature. Now, the portfolio, when it comes up for auction, with the five prints, brings around $3,000 to $5,000. So if this were just a print without the signature on it, taken out of the book, you'd have something in the range of about $500 to $800, I would guess. So the question is, is the signature correct?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And I feel very strongly that it's a good signature. It doesn't look like somebody copying signature, where there are stops and starts. This is a very sure signature, which leads me to believe that it's correct. I also know that Chagall signed things later on, so it's entirely plausible that somebody brought him this 1925 print and he agreed to put his signature on it in the 1960s. I would guarantee the signature if I put it up for sale at auction, and in that, really, is the value of this work-- the fact that it has that pencil signature on it.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
In today's market, I would put an estimate of about $2,500 to $3,500 on it.

GUEST:
Okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction
Event
Atlantic City, NJ (June 06, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Form
Etching
Material
Paper

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